Women’s tennis ready for OVC Tourney


Lauren McQueen

Freshman Emily Pugachevsky returns the ball to Austin Peay’s Isabela Jovanovic during her singles match April 8, 2017, at the Darling Courts. Pugachevsky defeated Jovanovic 6-2, 7-6 (5-3). The women’s tennis team earned a No. 4 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament after finishing the season with a 5-4 record.

Parker Valentine, Women's Tennis Reporter

The six team Ohio Valley Conference tournament bracket has been set and the Panthers start play Friday from the No. 4 seed.

Freshman Emily Pugachevsky had one of the strongest freshman seasons in recent years for the Panthers. She finished the season 16-2. In OVC play, Pugachevsky was undefeated with a record of 9-0. She was the only Panther to notch a victory against undefeated Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Pugachevsky is one of two Panthers coming into the tourney on a hot streak. Sophomore Srishti Slaria has won three straight matches heading into the tournament.

Freshman Stella Cliffe started off the season just as strong as the Panthers did as a whole. She won her first six matches of the season. She ended with a record of 14-5.

As a team, the Panthers finished the season five games over the .500 mark, with a record of 13-8 and went 5-4 in conference play.

The Panthers won their first six matches with three of those six victories came in sweeps 7-0. In their next match, the Panthers were swept by Illinois.

After that defeat the Panthers struggled as they rotated wins and losses over the next few weeks as they entered conference play. 

A road trip to Tennessee changed their fortunes in the conference a bit. After defeating Belmont and Tennessee state in Nashville, the Panthers defeated Murray State in their second meet at the Darling Courts.

That victory put them on a three-match winning streak before they were defeated by Austin Peay 4-3.

Three of their four losses in conference play came by just one point, ending 4-3.

The only defeat the Panthers suffered in the conference was against top ranked SIUE.

The Cougars completed an undefeated spring season last weekend at 19-0 and are the favorites to win the OVC tournament.

The Panthers’ first-round opponent in the tournament is Southeast Missouri. They finished OVC play with identical records of 5-4. The Panthers earned the tie-break against the Redhawks with a win during the season when they defeated the Redhawks on the road 4-3.

“We definitely have a really good shot at conference and I’m confident in the team and everything we’ve done this year,” said senior Kelly Iden.

The Panthers went 10-4 on the road this season.

Friday’s match start at 10 a.m. in Nashville.

Parker Valentine can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]